She influenced Booker Prize winners and other writers, such as Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell, and science fiction and fantasy writers including Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks. She won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each more than once. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2003, she was made a Grandmaster of Science Fiction, one of a few women writers to take the top honor in the genre.
Ursula and her three older brothers, Clifton, Theodore, and Karl Kroeber, were encouraged to read and were exposed to their parents' dynamic friend group, which included Native Americans and Robert Oppenheimer, who was later to become in part a model for her hero in The Dispossessed.:2 Le Guin stated that, in retrospect, she was grateful for the ease and happiness of her upbringing. The encouraging environment fostered Le Guin's interest in literature; her first fantasy story was written at age 9, her first science fiction story submitted for publication in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction at age 11. The family spent the academic year in Berkeley, retreating in the summers to "Kishamish" in Napa Valley, "an old, tumble-down ranch ... a gathering place for scientists, writers, students, and California Indians. Even though I didn't pay much attention, I heard a lot of interesting, grown-up conversation." She was interested in biology and poetry, but found math difficult.
Le Guin attended Berkeley High School. She received her B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) in Renaissance French and Italian literature from Radcliffe College in 1951, and M.A. in French and Italian literature from Columbia University in 1952. Soon after, Le Guin began her Ph.D. work and won a Fulbright grant to continue her studies in France from 1953 to 1954.
In 1953, while traveling to France aboard the Queen Mary, Le Guin met her future husband, historian Charles Le Guin. They married later that year in Paris. After marrying, Le Guin chose not to continue her doctoral studies of the poet Jean Lemaire de Belges.